Monday, 17 July 2017

With today's stunning poem, "Gender Veils: Moth Women" by Nina Rubinstein Alonso, Writing In A Woman's Voice will take a vacation until July 30, 2017.  Happy days to all.


Gender Veils: Moth Women     

by Nina Rubinstein Alonso


1. Veils

First time Tangier           
women in black veils                                      
wrapped like moths at night 

wings stuck to our front door
chill November signals winter
or something else meaning unclear 

tubes of dark cloth with
women folded inside
walking fear

because our voices
vibrate high notes judged 
unconvincing meaning female

wrapped in satin shawls
lower the tone try to understand
pressure of gender generations  

no school no vote own no   
property even babies belong to            
‘him’—father brother husband

holy books distort dogma
pulled down from infinite source
as if divine wears gender.


2. Ropes

Woman in a Persian garden
arms chained to a blooming tree

no dancing nymph
no swirl of drapery

she screams she cries            
who wouldn’t go mad 

wearing cuffs of gold or iron
caged prisoner wrists

can’t move
can’t try can’t attempt

let rules from ancient days
bend before my axe.


3. Earth Woman Sky              
                                              
She draws moth wings
dark shapes                                             
luna six spot                        
burnet grey dagger

emperor gum
blotched emerald                  
silver vagabond                   
teardrop orchid

adders mouth
adam and eve                      
fairy slipper name after name
lifting moth woman 
             
bent over hair nailed to the ground
cut free will she stand       
are her legs strong enough                     
can earth wings fly?


4.  Noises of leaden prayer

In the brass heat of day
wrapped women
fear men
carrying weapons  

fear change
I’m one spy of many                        
writing underground pages              
whispering under my veil   
                           
pouring light                
generations forward                
we’ll get shot at 
bleed explanations

before brutes  
hearts nailed tight
as if belief makes                 
violence holy

supposedly sacred
banners wave
fraud as truth 
lies insist

trying to shout us down
with noise of funerals
undulant thunder
of leaden prayer.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

In the Café
by Sherri Turner

He was talking to himself. Or, rather, he was talking to someone who wasn’t there.
Every now and then he laughed, or raised his eyebrows, or made some other acknowledgement of a silent comment. When his coffee was finished he stood to leave, leaned forward, whispered into an invisible ear.
The next day he returned and did the same. Every day for a week he was there.
On the last day he looked over to where I stood behind the counter, mouthed ‘goodbye’ and I never saw him again.
Until today, that is. The café is still here – I suppose it had to be – though it is more egg and chips than coffee and cakes now, not as posh as when I worked here.
He enters and looks around for an empty seat. I call him over to my table and he raises his eyebrows in query.
“Do I know you?” he asks.
“Not yet,” I say. I don’t try to explain. We have all week for that. Not that I can explain, not really.
He sits down and smiles.
“The chips look good,” he says, “but I think I’ll have a coffee.”
Just as well, as there are no chips on his menu.
He is a good talker, a good listener, too. I kind of understand why he is here, just not how.
When his coffee is finished he leans forward and whispers into my ear.
“Will I see you tomorrow?”
“Yes,” I reply.
I ignore the people in the café who think I am talking to myself.

* * ** *
"In the Café" was originally published in the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2015 A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

sleepwalking

by Eileen Murphy

            the wrinkled girl
shops for hairpins shops for shoes

buys a brassiere that becomes a brazier
sucks on candy mushroom clouds

            the gray-haired girl
lurks & sighs in stores parading jackets
curious hats beckoning skirts

sweats & skimps in criminal dressing rooms
slips smirking clerks her shaking credit cards

            BUY SAVE DIE

            in my empty condo
i sit
TV blue on my face

dried riverbeds
            mended
            with vitamin E lotion

shampoo                      covers gray
diet plan                      disappears fat

o cruel gods     kyrie eleison


* * * * *

"sleepwalking" was originally published in Poetry Motel (1999).

A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa. She received her Masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature and English at Polk State College in Lakeland and has recently published poetry in Thirteen Myna Birds, Tinderbox (nominated for Pushcart Prize), Yes Poetry, The American Journal of PoetryRogue AgentDeaf Poets Society, and other journals.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Rabbit

by Eileen Murphy


A rabbit’s body: broken.
I re-hear its squeal, like a soldier’s cry,
as I dig its grave.

Stupid rabbit
sitting in lilies and palms
thinking it’s safe.

German shepherd
dives
for the rabbit  

neighbor lady
screams,
No, Snowball! No!

grabs it
by the neck,
shakes it,

drops
the body
on the grass by our feet.

Rabbit,
wrong place, wrong time.
Like my buddy in Kobul.

House-to-house
search, no
warning, kaboom!

In my bad dream
animal soldiers lie
on their sides

crying for their mothers.


* * * * *

“Rabbit” was first published in 13 Myna Birds.


A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa. She received her Masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature and English at Polk State College in Lakeland and has recently published poetry in Thirteen Myna Birds, Tinderbox (nominated for Pushcart Prize), Yes Poetry, The American Journal of PoetryRogue AgentDeaf Poets Society, and other journals.




Thursday, 13 July 2017

How Small

by Lori Desrosiers

How small is your world, Mother.
Each day you wake, slowly.
The aide gets your breakfast,
always two poached eggs,
orange juice, decaf coffee
and rye toast. You never want
to get dressed, prefer to sit
for hours in your recliner
in red bathrobe and blanket.
You look at the New York Times
even though you no longer retain
what you read. The days I come
to take you out we have to argue.
You say, I am too tired, I can’t do this.

If I could, I would not disturb,
not force you out of your chair.
Are you afraid, my mother who
traveled, who wrote, who sang?
Daughter of Russian Jewish
immigrants, who survived
poverty, the depression, two wars,
who worked, raised her children
alone after divorce, how is it
you still look beautiful at 93?
In your little world, you fall
asleep sitting in your chair.



Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mother on the Beach

by Lori Desrosiers


Our young mother in her navy blue bathing suit
cream cheese sandwiches on the beach.

My brother’s nose under white cream
Mother kept him covered on the beach.

Mother carried a wicker basket
or was it a metal cooler, on the beach.

She held a towel for my brother
so he could change his shorts on the beach.

He had freckles and I didn’t
My pale little brother on the beach.

Before I die, I’d like to see the ocean again.
She’s too old, too frail to get to the beach.

We’d run into the churning surf, if it could
carry us back to Mother on the beach.



Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Midnight Oil

by Jill Crainshaw


A solitary light beaconed from the distance
                in the wee hours just before
                dawn cracked open the darkness.

Burning the midnight oil.

The Creating One in the beginning of beginnings
—sewing and seaming, stitching
                roots into the earth, fashioning fine
                spring things to adorn bluebirds and bumblebees
                daffodils and dandelions, embroidering soulful
                soil with a smile and breathing into it a
                sigh of delight.

Burning the midnight oil.

A solitary light beaconed from another window
in the wee hours just before
dawn cracked open the darkness.

Burning the midnight oil.

She, created by the Creating One
—whirring and chirring, snipping and clipping,
                weary-wise fingers urging one more scrap
                of this bit of blue, that piece of red
    beneath the ever-marching
    needle-foot of that old Singer Sewer
    Model 301A she kept coaxing and
                cajoling into action one more time
                to fashion an Easter dress or a pair
                of jeans or, one time, a man’s leisure suit.

Burning the midnight oil.

All other eyes in the house, on the street, shuttered tight
                while she followed with single-hearted gaze
                thread that danced and dipped beneath the
material surface, not noticing the
pale winter moon kissing her hand
as the clock ticked on until she sat back
and embroidered into a girl’s last minute
request a tired sigh of delight.

Burning the midnight oil.

The light in that window rests now, but vital
sacred strands spool on at the unfurling edge
of a new crack in a resurrecting dawn, fervent
fibers holding us together
—held in our hands—
                you and I piecing together hope from
                torn and tearing hearts, called by the
                Creating One

“Burn the midnight oil.”


* * * * *

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She enjoys exploring how words give voice to unexpected ideas, insights and visions.



Monday, 10 July 2017

Small, Mad Planets

by Lynne Thompson


We are all small, mad planets—
our veins swollen and sock-eye red,
memories short and less than useful;
they cannibalize our bloodstreams.

Old folks, knotted, gnarled, will tell you:
we are all small, mad planets, no less
twisted into a hump-backed tango,
no less implanted in this sad magenta soil.

Perhaps our batteries are dead or our
smoke alarms can’t recite their hard luck
and so we become small, mad planets
where rain in Djibouti doesn’t matter

any more than snow piling up in Duluth.
A child’s creaky yellow wagon is stilled
while a woodpecker’s rap is hysterical
because we’re all such small, mad planets.


* * * * *


"Small, Mad Planets" was first published in Beg No Pardon (Perugia Press, 2007).

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The eighth Moon Prize* goes to Allyson Whipple's magical flash fiction "The Meditative Moon"—backdating to the full moon of April 11, 2017.



The Meditative Moon

by Allyson Whipple


The moon had grown restless. After eons and eons of the same routine, she had come to resent her responsibility to Earth and its tides. She was tired of asteroids and comets brushing against her, marring her skin. She felt old, tired, and dried up.
            The sun advised her not to make any rash decisions, and advised her to take up zazen, to calm her restlessness and help her find contentment with her place in the universe.
            On her hundredth day of meditation, the moon had a realization, and the realization was that meditation wasn’t going to help her at all. The sun had just suggested it so as to keep her in line. She was sick and tired of having to reflect his light or sit and shiver in his shadow.
            It took all of her strength, but she broke free of her orbit and went soaring through space like the ship that had once landed on her back and pierced a flagpole through her brittle skin. As though she was anyone’s territory. As the moon picked up velocity, the flag flew off and got sucked into a black hole.
            Now it was her turn to crash into a few planets and shake things up.

* * * * *

Allyson Whipple is an MFA student at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, most recently Come Into the World Like That (Five Oaks Press). Allyson teaches at Austin Community College.


* The Moon Prize ($91) is awarded once a month on the full moon for a story or poem posted in Writing In A Woman's Voice during the moon cycle period preceding a full moon. I don't really want this to be competition. I simply want to share your voices. And then I want to pick one voice during a moon cycle for the prize. I fund this with 10% of my personal modest income. I wish I could pay for each and every poem or story, but I am not that rich. (Yet.) For a little while only there will be two awards each month, on the day of the full moon and the day after, until I catch up with past postings.

Why 91? 91 is a mystical number for me. It is 7 times 13. 13 is my favorite number. (7 isn't half bad either.) There are 13 moons in a year. I call 13 my feminist number, reasoning that anything that was declared unlucky in a patriarchal world has to be mystically excellent. Then there are 4 times 91 days in a year (plus one day, or two days in leap years), so approximately 91 days each season. In some Mayan temples there are or were 91 steps on each of four sides. Anyway, that's where the number 91 comes from, not to mention that it's in the approximate neighborhood of 100.



Saturday, 8 July 2017

The seventh Moon Prize* goes to Jill Crainshaw's poem "Biorhythmic Resistance"—backdating to the full moon of March 12, 2017. A reminder to live and breathe in difficult times. Congratulations on a shining poem of hope, Jill Crainshaw.


Biorhythmic Resistance
by Jill Crainshaw

The waxwings visited today. They
know when at winter’s spring-ward edge
to harvest our backyard cedar’s frosted
blue berries. Sometimes the luck of
wildness calls my eyes skyward, and
I see them, masked urban foragers
warming naked Jack Frost trees with
ephemeral browned-butter flames.
And then they are gone. They brush
still-cold blue skies with tails dipped in
sunflower yellow, leaving no sign 
they were ever here at all. But as I
watch them fly away, an ancient promise
caresses my face. When an uninvited
stranger occupies our terrace, holds minds
hostage to chaotic rhythms, desperate
to rewire fragile dreams to his own 
narcissistic gravity, this is how we
resist. We synchronize our wings to
creation’s pace and breathe in and out
the spiraling balm of hope. And then we
live as people who remember, who
know in the marrow of our bones:
the waxwings will visit again.

* * * * *
Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She enjoys exploring how words give voice to unexpected ideas, insights and visions.


* The Moon Prize ($91) is awarded once a month on the full moon for a story or poem posted in Writing In A Woman's Voice during the moon cycle period preceding a full moon. I don't really want this to be competition. I simply want to share your voices. And then I want to pick one voice during a moon cycle for the prize. I fund this with 10% of my personal modest income. I wish I could pay for each and every poem or story, but I am not that rich. (Yet.) For a little while only there will be two awards each month, on the day of the full moon and the day after, until I catch up with past postings.

Why 91? 91 is a mystical number for me. It is 7 times 13. 13 is my favorite number. (7 isn't half bad either.) There are 13 moons in a year. I call 13 my feminist number, reasoning that anything that was declared unlucky in a patriarchal world has to be mystically excellent. Then there are 4 times 91 days in a year (plus one day, or two days in leap years), so approximately 91 days each season. In some Mayan temples there are or were 91 steps on each of four sides. Anyway, that's where the number 91 comes from, not to mention that it's in the approximate neighborhood of 100.